Heat GM Andy Elisburg had advice for Cavaliers GM after losing LeBron: ‘It ends, and you have to start again’

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on while playing the Chicago Bulls during a pre season game at Quicken Loans Arena on October 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

MIAMI — It’s been exactly four years since LeBron James announced he was leaving the Heat to return to his hometown Cavaliers on July 11, 2014.

Heat general manager Andy Elisburg still remembers that day well, especially the feelings he felt immediately after learning of James’ decision to head to Cleveland. In a ESPN story written by Ramona Shelburne that chronicled James’ latest decision to sign with the Lakers, Elisburg revealed that he called Cleveland general manager Koby Altman the morning after news broke that James was leaving the Cavaliers to move to Los Angeles earlier this month. Continue reading “Heat GM Andy Elisburg had advice for Cavaliers GM after losing LeBron: ‘It ends, and you have to start again’”

Heat to face Lakers, whose players are excited to play with LeBron James

Workers remove the Nike LeBron James banner from the Sherwin-Williams building near Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO – The Miami Heat face the Los Angeles Lakers tonight in their second summer league game. No, LeBron James will not be wearing a Lakers uniform, but he will be on their players’ minds.

James is taking his talents to Hollywood after agreeing to a four-year, $154 million deal with the Lakers. The Lakers’ summer league team was in Sacramento when the news broke and it jolted two of LeBron’s future teammates out of bed.

Second year guard Josh Hart and first-round draft pick Mortiz Wagner both said they were chillin’ when they heard LeBron was coming to L.A.

“I was laying down in my hotel room,,” Hart said. “I really didn’t know it. …. ‘What they say?’ I was just kind of in shock. I was like, ‘Wow!’ This is the best player in the world coming to L.A. The opportunity to play with someone like that is amazing and it’s something you dream about. I’m anxious to get started.

Of course, Hart may never have that chance. If the Lakers pull off the deal for Kawhi Leonard, Hart could be one of the players headed to the Spurs. The 30th pick in the 2017 draft averaged 7.9 points in 63 games, 23 starts, as a rookie. He scored 23 points Monday in the Lakers’ 98-93 loss to the Kings in their summer league opener, sharing team-high scoring honors with Wagner.

Wagner, taken 25th overall last month, is anxious to watch LeBron as a teammate.

“I found out in my bed in my hotel room,” Wagner said. “Very excited. Anytime you get the chance to work with the greatest of all time in any job I think it’s very exciting and do and be a part of it and to see how he works and competes is exciting.”

Lakers summer league coach Miles Simon said he addressed the organization’s free agency frenzy. After agreeing with James, the Lakers also have brought on Rajon Rondo, Lance Stevenson, JaVale McGee and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and renounced the rights to Julius Randle, who is headed to New Orleans.

“Before the game I just let them know everybody’s reading the Internet, watching SportsCenter, and it’s an exciting time to be a Laker,” Miles said. “We are one of the greatest franchises in sports history.

“But I told them, ‘Block that all out.’ These next couple of weeks is all about these guys and their journey and how they’re going to start to make their mark and their footprint in the NBA. This is really truly about these guys we have in the locker room wearing this uniform so they can get better and establish themselves as NBA players.”

Meanwhile, Heat summer league coach Eric Glass has no such worries as Miami remains hamstrung this free agency season with a roster that is about $18 million over the salary cap. In fact, Heat president Pat Riley is in Sacramento to watch his young players. Riley, reportedly, is looking at some trades and likely trying to shed some salaries.

Miami’s biggest moves when it comes to free agency will center on their own free agents, Wayne Ellington, Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem.

[Here is what Heat center Bam Adebayo said about incorporating Euro step into his game]

[JJ Redick returning to Philadelphia, where does that leave Wayne Ellington when it comes to Heat (and Sixers)]

[Mailbag: Why have the Miami Heat been so quiet to start free agency?]

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What does LeBron James joining the Lakers mean for the Miami Heat and rest of the Eastern Conference?

The Los Angeles Lakers will welcome LeBron James to their team and the Western Conference. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO – The Miami Heat are getting better by standing pat.

OK, that’s not what Heat followers, clamoring for Pat Riley to do something, do anything, just for the sake of making a change, want to hear. But the Eastern Conference, already considered the undercard to the heavy weight fight that is the Western Conference, just watched the Cleveland Cavaliers go from a team that has gone to four consecutive Finals to one that is headed for the lottery.

And everybody else will benefit.

LeBron James’ decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers will send the Cavs into another tailspin. The last time he left, Cleveland went from a team that won 127 games in the two previous seasons to 97 in the next four. And that means a bump for every team in the East, including the Heat.

Miami is, for the most part, free agency bystanders this summer with a roster that is about $18 million over the cap. The Heat won 44 games last season and finished sixth in a race in which the final three teams were separated by one game. Riley already has floated the idea that the Heat may have to suck it up for another offseason, bring back the same old gang and try to improve from within, which can happen with Dion Waiters expected to be healthy for a full season and young players like Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo trending in a position direction.

And with Cleveland falling back and none of the seven lottery teams in the East making any significant additions, the Heat not only clearly are one of the East’s top eight teams, their ceiling just got a bit higher and Miami will go into this season believing they are one of the top 4 teams in the East.

LeBron’s decision must have been met by some clinking of the glasses not only in Miami but in Boston (now clearly the Conference favorite), Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Toronto … especially in Toronto, which has been eliminated from the playoffs by the Cavaliers the last three seasons, the last two in sweeps.

But it could even mean more to the Heat. The Lakers are trying to swing a trade with San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard which would mean Philadelphia would not. The Sixers already have lost two key members of their rotation in free agency – Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilysova – and have struck out on LeBron. If Philly whiffs on Leonard (and somehow also loses free agent JJ Redick), then the Sixers will be holding a big bag of cash they will be desperate to spend, a scenario that could further weaken the conference and create even more distance between Boston and everyone else.

But LeBron’s decision may go even deeper. As July approached, several Eastern Conference teams were looking to make changes, tired of the same old stale results. Chief among them, Toronto and Washington. Now, what if each of these franchises feel as though they were given new life and decide a drastic move isn’t necessary?

The Raptors might just decide to stick with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and look at their 59-win season in a whole different light considering their kryptonite is out of the East.

And the Wizards might believe once again their nucleus of John Wall and Bradley Beal and Otto Porter (Washington already shipped center Marcin Gortat to the Clippers) is good enough to make a run.

As for the Heat, LeBron’s departure will not mean Riley is ready to close up shop and call it a summer. Riley knows he’s in salary cap hell and the only way to improve this roster is through a trade or two. If Riley can find a way to do that, whether that means moving a bad contract or even trading one of the Heat’s young assets, he will pull the trigger on any deal.

Just because Cleveland’s loss is the Heat’s gain does not mean the work is done.

Stars migrating from East to West is not new. Just a year ago, two of the East’s best players made the same journey, Paul George and Jimmy Butler.

Now, the West has all five players from the All-NBA first team, the top five scorers and seven of the top eight rebounders.

While the West has LeBron and Kevin Durant and Steph Curry and James Harden and Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis and we can go on and on and on, the East has. … Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving and some nice young rising players who could one day get to that stage.

So, take a moment to celebrate Eastern Conference. LeBron is gone.

[Heat summer League preview: Expect to see plenty of Bam Adebayo]

[Heat sign Derrick Jones Jr. to standard contract, pushing roster to 11 players]

[Miami Heat swingman Rodney McGruder’s contract guaranteed for 2018-19]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

LeBron James leaving Cavaliers to join Lakers, and that’s actually good news for the Heat and rest of Eastern Conference

LeBron James speaks to the media after Cleveland was swept by Golden State in the NBA Finals. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

LeBron James took his time with the first two major decisions of his NBA career. It didn’t take long for him to make the third.

On the first day of free agency Sunday, James agreed to a four-year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers — a deal that includes a player option in the fourth season, according to multiple reports. While his 2010 decision to join the Heat was revealed on a television special on ESPN and his 2014 decision to sign with the Cavaliers was released in a letter in Sports Illustrated, his latest move to Los Angeles was announced through a simple tweet by his agency group, Klutch Sports Group. Continue reading “LeBron James leaving Cavaliers to join Lakers, and that’s actually good news for the Heat and rest of Eastern Conference”

2018 Free Agency Update: LeBron lays low during early morning madness, as do Heat

Cleveland’s LeBron James during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics on May 27, 2018. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

As LeBron James’ private plane was tracking from Anguilla to Van Nuys Saturday, backroom deals were being struck all over the NBA landscape.

The frenzy started minutes before the ball dropped on the NBA New Year at midnight and continued well into the morning. Within hours about 20 players reportedly agreed to deals, with most not allowed to sign before noon on Friday.

One team sitting out the madness: the Miami Heat. The Heat’s lack of flexibility makes it very difficult for Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg to become a major player this summer, other than through the trade market.

The biggest names – Golden State’s Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City’s Paul George, Houston’s Chris Paul, Denver’s Nikola Jokic – are returning to their old teams. The four will re-sign on deals ranging from two to four years and totaling more than $500 million. (And this is a summer in which the theme is fiscal responsibility.)

The most intriguing names on the move so far are DeAndre Jordan from the Clippers to Dallas, Trevor Ariza from Houston to Phoenix and two players who obviously do not Trust the Process in Philadelphia, Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli, who will sign with Milwaukee and San Antonio, respectively.

Other than that, few names will tilt the needle as we enter the week, with, of course, one exception.

James spent most of last week holed up in the Caribbean, weighing his options. Saturday morning, he and his financial team boarded his jet for Southern California, where, let’s face it, all signs point to him ultimately staying put as a member of the Lakers. But on Sunday, James’ agent, Rich Paul, reportedly was set to meet with a high-level Sixers contingent in Los Angeles.

Before meeting with Philadelphia, the only reported contact James had with any team after midnight was a phone call with Cleveland general manger Koby Altman. James owes the Cavaliers nothing after delivering on his promise to bring Cleveland a title after returning four years ago but perhaps he learned from the embarrassing way he left his hometown team the first time with a poorly-planned, hour-long infomercial in which he declared he was “taking his talents to South Beach.”

James is not holding this free agent season hostage as he did eight and four years ago, when he bolted Miami and returned to Cleveland. A sign that many believe James’ decision has been made is so many deals being reported in the early hours of free agency. If James had a long list of teams he was considering, everything would have been on hold, much like it was two years ago for Durant and last year for Gordon Hayward.

But James has been trending toward the Lakers for weeks and that narrative become stronger Friday when James informed Cleveland he would opt out of the final year of contract, which realistically narrowed his choices to the Lakers, Cavs and Sixers. The biggest question now is who rides James’ coattails to L.A. With George staying put in OKC, the Lakers (and likely James) have targeted New Orleans’ DeMarcus Cousins.

Despite the early rush, this will be a tight market for free agents. Just eight teams have cap space of any significance and already two of them, Dallas and Phoenix, have made their big moves. Of those remaining teams, just the Lakers, Philadelphia and Indiana appear willing to hand out substantial contracts. The others – Atlanta, Chicago and Sacramento – could sign mid-tier players and/or use their space for trades.

Many teams are looking back at the summer of 2016 when spending got out of control and some of the worst contracts in league history were handed out, and ahead to next summer when the cap will rise to a projected $109 million and the market will be deeper with Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker and Kevin Love among those all likely to be available.

As for the Heat, the first bit of news likely will involve free agent guard Wayne Ellington. Miami would like to retain the franchise’s record holder for the most 3 pointers in a season, but at what price? The Heat have Ellington’s early Bird rights and can pay him as much as $10.9 million next season but that could put them above the new luxury tax line, which was revealed last night as $123.733 million, unless other salary is shed through a trade.

Ilyasova, Belinelli and Doug McDermott (Indiana) are long-range shooters like Ellington and their contracts were in the $6-$7.3 million per year range. Ellington will receive interest as the market settles but expect him and the Heat to have several conversations.

[Miami Heat swingman Rodney McGruder’s contract guaranteed for 2018-19]

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Time move on Heat Nation, LeBron James is not walking through that door anytime soon

It’s time to move on from the idea of ever seen LeBron James in a Miami Heat uniform again. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

For those who still believed LeBron James: The Sequel was coming soon to an arena on Biscayne Blvd., it’s now time to move on.

The Chosen One has chosen to forgo the final year of his Cleveland contract that would have paid him $35.6 million, to pursue bigger and better things as he enters the final quarter of his career.

Bigger and better things that almost certainly do not include the Miami Heat.

James informed the Cavaliers of his decision earlier today, according to several reports, and will hit the open market at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, which surely will add another layer of crazy to what every year is a fascinating NBA free agency period.

The decision (as opposed to The Decision III, which is coming soon) is not what Heat Nation wanted to hear. LeBron has essentially eliminated any teams over the cap as his future employer, which realistically reduces his options to the Lakers, Cavaliers and an outside chance Philadelphia jumps into the mix. The Cavaliers can offer James a five-year deal worth more a little more than $200. Any other team with space can sign him for four years and about $150 million.

LeBron taking his talents to South Beach for a second time in eight years had a much better chance of happening if he picked up that final year of his deal. That would have expanded the pool of teams to those over the cap, which would have put the Rockets and Heat at the top of the list, although Miami probably still would have been a distant second.

Miami is $18 million over the projected $101 million salary cap for the 2018-19 season and that’s with 10 players and before any decisions are made on Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem and Wayne Ellington. Just by rounding out their roster with minimum deals that would put the Heat close to $125 million.

James’ next max contract will come with a starting salary of $35.4 million. So, to add LeBron as a straight up free agent, and not in a sign-and-trade, the Heat would have to shed at least $53 million in salary.

Not happening.

As for a sign-and-trade, that, too, is very difficult because it triggers the hard cap, which is projected at $129 million. Teams receiving the free agent in the sign-and-trade deal — in this case the Heat — can’t surpass the $129 million apron at the end of the trade. Because of this, Miami would have to send out at least $31 million to take James’ $35 million salary back in a sign-and-trade.

Even if the Cavaliers wanted the Heat’s three youngest assets with the most potential – Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow – their 2018-19 salaries come to $16.7 million. The Cavs are not taking back another $14 million in long term salaries, especially if it is to help out the Heat. If Cleveland is going to lose LeBron, it certainly would rather see him go West.

If LeBron opted in it would have been a signal that a trade was lined up, probably meaning he was headed to either Houston or Miami. But even then, Houston is a much more attractive option with their backcourt of MVP James Harden and free agent Chris Paul, who, along with Wade, is part of LeBron’s inner circle when it comes to his peers. LeBron then would have formed a Big Three that could have challenged Golden State’s stranglehold on the league.

Some, though, might still believe the Heat have a chance and LeBron still could request a sit down with Pat Riley. And because we are talking LeBron and Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg’s magic calculator, perhaps it is foolish to completely count out the Heat until LeBron’s signature is on a contract with another team’s logo in the header.

Any news surrounding LeBron goes viral. But any LeBron news leading up to his free agency tends to break the Internet.

LeBron was in Miami last weekend, attending his son’s basketball game and the Internet was wild with speculation. He also was spotted in Brickell. The craziest speculation was an unconfirmed report that LeBron was involved in some clandestine meeting with Riley and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra during the week.

But this is not 2010. The Heat are not flush with money and Miami does not have bargaining chips like a Wade in his prime or Chris Bosh to entice the best player on the planet.

Unless Riley can pull off a miracle that would make any other of the splashy moves he has made in his 23 years in Miami look ho-hum, it’s time to move on Heat Nation.

LeBron James is not walking through that door.

2018 Heat Offseason Preview

[Monday’s question: LeBron James could be on the move again, do the Heat have a chance of bringing him back?]

[Tuesday’s question: Will Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem return for a 16th NBA season or retire?]

[Wednesday’s question: Will 3-point specialist Wayne Ellington return to Heat?]

[Thursday’s question: With no cap space, can Heat turn to trades to improve roster?]

[Friday’s question: Does Hassan Whiteside’s contract make him untradeable?]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

 

LeBron James opts out of Cavaliers contract to become free agent. Here’s how that impacts the Heat …

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during Game Seven of the 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on May 27, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

MIAMI — LeBron James will become an unrestricted free agent.

James has opted out of a $35.6 million player option in his current contract with the Cavaliers for next season, according to multiple reports. The decision means the 14-time All-Star will be an unrestricted free agent starting Sunday.

For those still hoping for a James-Heat reunion, this news makes it very unlikely he will end up in Miami.

With Miami capped out and just a few million dollars away from the projected $123 million luxury tax threshold, the cleanest and easiest way for the Heat would have been to land James through a normal trade. In order to facilitate this type of deal, he would have had to opt in to the final season of his current contract before Friday’s deadline and then convince Cleveland to trade him to Miami.

But now that James has opted out to become a free agent, it makes it difficult for teams without cap space to acquire him this summer. And again, the Heat are already over the cap.

Although very challenging, it’s not impossible for Miami to sign James even after his decision to opt out. It can still be done through free agency or a sign-and-trade.

Here’s why those options are so difficult for the Heat, though.

Acquiring James as a direct free agent signing will be extremely tough for the Heat. Miami is already $18 million over the projected $101 million salary cap for the 2018-19 season — and that’s before dealing with the Wayne Ellington, Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade situations — and James is expected to sign a max contract with a starting salary of $35.4 million.

That means in order to create enough space under the cap to acquire James as a direct free agent signing, the Heat would need to clear at least $53 million off the books. That’s going to be really, really hard.

As for the sign-and-trade scenario, there’s one big challenge the Heat would face. Teams receiving the player in the sign-and-trade deal — in this case the Heat — can’t surpass the apron at the end of the trade. That means the Heat would be hard-capped at the apron, which is projected to be $129 million.

The Heat already have 10 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due about $119 million, and will be close to $125 million if they round out their roster with just minimum deals. This puts the Heat really close to the apron. Because of this, Miami would have to send out at least $31 million to take James’ $35 million salary back in a sign-and-trade.

James’ decision to opt out narrows the numbers of options he has to choose from, realistically to teams that have cap space to sign a max player this summer. Realistically down to the Cavaliers, Lakers and Sixers.

2018 Heat Offseason Preview

[Monday’s question: LeBron James could be on the move again, do the Heat have a chance of bringing him back?]

[Tuesday’s question: Will Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem return for a 16th NBA season or retire?]

[Wednesday’s question: Will 3-point specialist Wayne Ellington return to Heat?]

[Thursday’s question: With no cap space, can Heat turn to trades to improve roster?]

[Friday’s question: Does Hassan Whiteside’s contract make him untradeable?]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

2018 Free Agency Primer: We bring you the top five players at each position

LeBron James speaks to the media after Cleveland was swept by Golden State in the NBA Finals. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Free agency starts at 12:01 Sunday. Barring any significant trades that allow them to shed salaries, the Miami Heat lack cap space to become a major player this summer.

More than 125 players are free to sign with any team, although several are restricted. Here is our list of the top players at this time at each position.

POINT GUARDS

Chris Paul, Houston: The Rockets will try to find a way to bring back Paul – he can sign for $205 million over five years – and add LeBron James or Paul George.

Isaiah Thomas, Lakers: Thomas’ timing could not have been worse. He insists he is a max player but he won’t get close to that after a season in which his production fell and questions still persist about his hip.

Rajon Rondo, New Orleans: Rondo is no longer the player he was in Boston but he has rehabilitated his image in Chicago and New Orleans and continues to be a solid floor general.

Elfrid Payton, Phoenix: The Suns acquired Payton from Orlando at the trade deadline hoping he would be their point guard of the future. Not so and they are moving on from Payton.

Fred Van Vleet, Toronto (R): Van Vleet had a breakout year last season, his third in the league and will receive a nice pay raise from the $1.3 million he made in 2017-18.

SHOOTING GUARDS

Zach LaVine, Bulls (R): LaVine returned from ACL surgery and looked good in his half season in Chicago. If teams are not scared off by the injury he could get close to the max.

Tyreke Evans, Memphis: Evans had a solid year averaging 19.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists. At 28 he is looking at his last big contract.

Will Barton, Denver: An underrated player who has steadily improved the last four seasons had his best season heading into free agency. Mostly a reserve but proved last season he can be productive starting.

JJ Redick, Philadelphia: Redick made the most of his one-year, $23 million deal with the 76ers, averaging 17.1 points. Now, he is on the market again.

Marcus Smart, Boston: Smart has been a valuable reserve for the Celtics the last two years and helped his cause in the playoffs. One of the top defensive guards in the league.

SMALL FORWARDS

LeBron James, Cleveland: Everything is on hold until James decides where he is headed – he first must decline his player option for $35.6 million. The Lakers appear to be in the lead but the Cavaliers are holding out hope he returns.

Kevin Durant, Golden State: Durant is expected to decline his player option for $26.2 million after signing a two-year deal last summer and re-signing with the Warriors. Durant said he’s ready to ink a long-term deal.

Paul George, Oklahoma City: The Thunder were hoping to retain George after the gamble it took last summer to trade for him and put together a team that could compete for a title. George opted out and will field offers, which doesn’t look good for OKC.

Trevor Ariza, Houston: The Rockets will make an attempt to somehow land James but that will take creativity and certainly would mean losing Ariza. Otherwise, the Rockets are in play.

Rudy Gay, San Antonio: Gay declined his player option for $8.8 million to test free agency for a second consecutive season. He averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in his one year in San Antonio.

POWER FORWARDS

Aaron Gordon, Orlando (R): Gordon is going to get paid – he is seeking a max deal – and the Magic have a big decision as to whether they match an offer to keep him, let him go or try to work out a sign-and-trade.

Julius Randle, Lakers (R): Randle’s future is as murky as anybody’s on the market depending on what happens in L.A. The Lakers are trying to land some combination of LeBron, Leonard and Paul George – or even all three – and how it unfolds will determine whether Randle returns.

Derrick Favors, Utah: Favors is an under-the-radar free agent who will be a nice pickup for somebody if he leaves Utah. The Jazz want him back but his future will have everything to do with how much money is left after the big names move.

Jabari Parker, Milwaukee (R): Parker struggled this season playing just 31 games after returning from a torn ACL. Not sure the Bucks are eager to give him a large contract which could limit his offer on the open market.

Montrezl Harrell, Clippers: Another underrated player who played an important role on the Clippers after being acquired last summer in the Chris Paul trade. An explosive player with great energy who is a tough matchup at 6-8. Can also play center.

CENTERS

DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans: Cousins’ torn Achilles came at a bad time. He would have been a max player but likely will have to take less after suffering the injury in late January. The big question is if the Pelicans really want him back?

Clint Capela, Houston (R): The Rockets love Capela and matching an offer would be a no-brainer if it weren’t for their pursuit of LeBron. Ideally, Houston retains Chris Paul and Capela and somehow lands LeBron, but that will be difficult.

DeAndre Jordan, Clippers: Jordan could exercise his player option and be traded to Dallas before free agency kicks off. He is a capable scorer, one of the best rebounders in the league and a huge asset defensively.

Jusuf Nurkic, Portland (R): Nurkic improved during his first full season in Portland but he remains an inconsistent player. The Trail Blazers will have a decision to make when he receives an offer.

Brook Lopez, Lakers: Lopez has expanded his game, making 246 threes on 34.5 percent shooting the last two years. He made just three threes in his first eight seasons. A return to L.A. is unlikely.

2018 Heat Offseason Preview

[Monday’s question: LeBron James could be on the move again, do the Heat have a chance of bringing him back?]

[Tuesday’s question: Will Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem return for a 16th NBA season or retire?]

[Wednesday’s question: Will 3-point specialist Wayne Ellington return to Heat?]

[Thursday’s question: With no cap space, can Heat turn to trades to improve roster?]

[Friday’s question: Does Hassan Whiteside’s contract make him untradeable?]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

 

Still hoping for a LeBron James-Heat reunion? Pay attention to Friday’s opt-in/opt-out deadline

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on in the second half against the Golden State Warriors during Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

MIAMI — Before free agency begins Sunday at 12:01 a.m., LeBron James has an important decision to make.

James has until 11:59 p.m. on Friday to opt in or opt out of a $35.6 million player option in his current contract with the Cavaliers for next season. If the 14-time All-Star opts out, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent on Sunday. Continue reading “Still hoping for a LeBron James-Heat reunion? Pay attention to Friday’s opt-in/opt-out deadline”

2018 Miami Heat Offseason Preview: LeBron James could be on the move again, do the Heat have a chance of bringing him back?

LeBron James speaks to the media with a cast on his right hand after being defeated by the Golden State Warriors 4-0 in the 2018 NBA Finals. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The NBA starts a new fiscal year at 12 a.m. Sunday, which also signals the start of free agency and what once again will be a busy offseason. The Miami Heat may not be as big a player as usual this offseason because of roster and payroll limitations but president Pat Riley still will be busy trying to find a way to upgrade his roster, however difficult that may be.

This week we take a look at the biggest offseason questions surrounding the Heat. Today’s question: LeBron James appears to be ready to bolt Cleveland for a second time, do the Heat have a shot of bringing James back to Miami? We’ll shift to a different question each day leading up to the start of free agency.

[RELATED: Photos of the incredible style at the 2018 NBA Draft]
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LeBron James was spotted in Miami this weekend. He was seen walking in Brickell and at his son’s basketball game. What does it mean? Not much unless James was able to squeeze in a highly secretive meeting with a realtor and put in a down payment on a new home in the area.

Once again, we find ourselves in another ‘Summer of LeBron.’ James is expected to opt out of the $35.6 million player option for next season, making him an unrestricted free agent starting Sunday.

From there, James and his camp will start setting up meetings. Those that appear most assured to getting in the door with James are the Lakers, 76ers and Cleveland. Several others have been mentioned as possibly getting a sit-down, including the Heat.

Miami’s odds, though, are growing longer, according to those in that business. At one time, the odds were 25-to-1 the Heat landed James. Most recently those odds are up to 40-to-1. The reason is, unlike 2010, the Heat currently lack the salary-cap space to sign James in free agency. The Heat already are close to the luxury tax line with 10 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due $119 million. That puts Miami about $18 million above the projected $101 million salary cap and very close to the projected $123 million luxury tax line.

Pat Riley admitted last Friday, minutes after the draft ended, that there would be no midnight meetings and he didn’t think the Heat were “going to be in it that way because we can’t. We don’t have the cap space and we’re up against the tax, so we have to do some other things in reversing that direction.”

Realistically, the only way to acquire James would be through a sign-and-trade with the Cavaliers and that would mean Cleveland having an incentive to deal with Miami, which is not likely. If the Cavs are going to lose James and are able to pull off a sign-and-trade they would want draft picks and cap space and not long-term contracts in return.

Eight summers ago, the Heat were in the driver’s seat with it came to James. They had the cap space and the ability to put together a juggernaut with James and Chris Bosh being free agents and Dwyane Wade already in place. Now, other teams are attempting to sell James on that same concept, teams like the Lakers, Philadelphia, Houston, San Antonio, possibly Golden State. Teams that could have the space to sign two max players or already have a superstar in place for James to join.

As for Miami, put the Heat at the bottom of that list when it comes to the possibility of James taking his talents to South Beach for a second time.

[Pat Riley is on Twitter, but he does not have a burner account. Let him explain …]

[It’s easy to criticize how Heat have handled (traded) a lot of their recent draft picks, but it’s also easy to justify]

[Bam Adebayo leads a Miami Heat summer league roster that is up to nine players]

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